The 43rd edition of Host Milano was a feast for technology that embraces versatility and convenience to suit the evolving needs of the international coffee market.
Visitors to the largest Hospitality, Restaurant and Catering expo in the world – Host Milano – is a five-day test of endurance and energy levels, but above all, it’s the most significant platform of connection to the most influential people and products in the world of coffee equipment.
From 13 to 17 October, more than 180,000 trade visitors, of which over 42 per cent were international from 155 countries, made their way to Rho Fiera in Milan, Italy.
Before official proceedings commenced, Mahlkönig took line honours in unveiling the new EK Omnia grinder in a dramatic reveal thanks to a countdown clock and smoke machine, but the anticipation was worth it.
“Mahlkönig is a brand unlike another other with a history closely linked to the heritage of the EK series. It all started in 1924. We are nearly 100 years old, beginning with EK1 and EK2 in the 70s, the EK23, then finally the EK43 series in 1990, which is now the product seen all around the world in serious coffee venues, which makes us proud,” says Mahlkönig CEO Marcel Lehmann. “The evolution of this product came together with discussion from our engineers, product management and colleagues in sales, to build something new, and I couldn’t be more proud to show you the result and the next chapter of EK.”
When the doors to Host Milano officially opened and a sea of people spanned beyond the horizon, Halls 14, 19, 22 and 24 were a flurry of faces and feet. The real spotlight however, was on new machines and a first-hand look at the next evolution of industry technology.
At the Franke Coffee Machines stand, Brand Ambassador and 2023 Irish Barista Champion, Wojciech Tysler and Franke Product Marketing Manager Mirza Bilalic demonstrated the new Mytico range, featuring the Due and Vario machines, which was awarded a Green Smart Label award from Host Milano for its product performance and co-friendly features. Also on display for the first time was Franke’s PrecisionFoam technology, available only with Mytico Vario. At the touch of a button, just as coffee is dispensed from the spout, steamed hot or cold milk foam is dispensed from a separate tap to the desired quantity, temperature, and consistency.
“There are so many variables that a barista has to control when it comes to measuring the accuracy of the right volume of milk, which often leads to unnecessary wastage, as well as the right temperature and quality texturing to suit the intended volume and aeration of milk foam. PrecisionFoam eliminates all these steps and allows the barista to interact more directly with the customer and use the extra time to perfect latte art skills,” says Bilalic.
Eversys had one of the most engaging stands at Host Milano, with the gigantic floorspace flooded with visitors all day-long. Rotating machines, interactive latte art challenges and an Espresso Lab featuring international guest roasters and their specialty coffee offerings brought the ‘wow factor’. It continued with daily talks from IOT partners including iovent, Specter, Bibe Coffee, Kiocafe and smvend, which captivated the audience on ways businesses can install payment and telemetry systems that provide data, then be turned into actionable information to improve output.
In the evening, Eversys also hosted an intimate gathering in which machine ambassadors and industry icons of the barista stage: 2023 World Barista Champion (WBC) Boram Um, 2017 WBC Dale Harris, 2002 WBC Fritz Storm, discussed the value of competitions and the level of optimism needed, in a moderated panel with Eversys Global Marketing Director by Andre Eiermann.
Back at the expo, Cimbali Group was a wonderland of innovations and service solutions for every segment of the market. In the center of the stand was a first look at the company’s new logo and dark teal and copper orange branding, with an immersive visual theatre celebrating bean to cup and Cimbali Group’s role and significance within the supply chain. It segmented the stand into La Cimbali, Casadio, Faema and Slayer products. La Cimbali released the new M40 traditional machine, the Slite fully automatic machine for small-sized environments, and showcased the connection between its Elective grinder and M200 machine.
Over at the UNIC stand, the French espresso machine manufacturer demonstrated why it has had such strong market longevity since 1919. The Stella EPIC and full Tango XP line was on display, as were specialty espresso extractions from the Fully Auto Tangos. Crowds gathered daily to engage in sensory and tasting workshops to better appreciate the capabilities of UNIC’s “unique” machine line-up.
Rancilio highlighted its commitment to sustainability, and Brand Ambassador Nicole Battefeld-Montgomery spoke about her involvement in the planning of Rancilio’s new Berlin showroom, which opened in February 2023, and her commitment to the brand.
“I see huge potential in Rancilio. It is very honest in its pricing and has great technology behind it, including temperature profiling within the shot, which is patented, and only we have it,” Battefeld-Montgomery says. “Rancilio’s bypass within the shot technology improves coffee and not just specialty, but commodity coffee too.”
WMF, Schaerer and Curtis joined forces at Host Milano, inviting visitors to “discover the world of coffee”, starting with WMF’s espresso Next semi-automatic portafilter, which looks like a traditional machine but takes away “difficult” barista steps and allows the machine to take over.
Visitors to the stand were impressed with the speed of the 1500F filter machine that produce fresh filtered coffee in seven seconds and hold four litres of storage, and the possibilities with WMF CoffeeConnect. In this way, full control is relinquished to the user, allowing them to select their desired coffee on a screen, pay with a preferred method, and scan a printed voucher to activate the order automatically.
On the other side of the stand, Schaerer had a big focus on real-life applications, with the Schaerer Coffee Soul with ProCare system and Schaerer Coffee Skye.
For something totally unique, Tone presented what it says is the world’s first professional boilerless two-group espresso machine.
“It has an open back, which you can put your whole hand through. There are no screws anywhere. The side panels are attached with magnets. It’s a service technician’s dream. There’s no pump underneath. All the pumps are built into the machine,” says Jörg Krahl, Tone Managing Director. “We use the same heating element as we do in the Touch 03 and Touch 04. There’s a computer inside enabled with AI technology to control and adjust the power management. And when you grind off during the day, the machine autocorrects itself.”
Over at the Simonelli Group stand, divided between Nuova Simonelli and Victoria Arduino equipment, there were new releases in every direction, complete with a bar and café corner to resemble how each machine can be adapted into real-life scenarios.
The biggest buzz was around Victoria Arduino’s Pure Brew innovation. From the back, it looks like any Mythos grinder but from the front, this machine is capable of brewing up to 500 millilitres of filter coffee, tea, or a cocktail ingredient with up to 12 pre-set brewing recipes.
“The user can choose the profile, dosage, the volume of water and the temperature for brewing, which can draw out exact flavours for a higher quality coffee at a fast rate,” says Marco Feliziani, CEO of Simonelli Group.
On the Nuova Simonelli stand, the new Nuova Aurelia showed its connection with the GX grinder thanks to AI, wireless connection, and a portafilter identification system. Thanks to gravimetrics, the GX coffee grinder can produce a direct grind dose, automatically tamp, and once the portafilter handle is locked into the group head, the extraction starts automatically.
“The other great technology in this machine is E-milk, which provides automatic frothing of milk. A sensor on top of the steam wand allows the user to auto purge as many times as they want. On the dedicated dial, select from nine different milk-based recipes, pre-set from the display, then push the knob and the E-milk does the work,” Feliziani says. “If there’s any residue left on the milk wand, it won’t start either until it’s cleaned, which is a great reminder.”
Victoria Arduino also unveiled the E1 Prima PRO. It has the same shape of the Eagle One Prima with a Black Eagle Maverick group head, but with T3 Genius and Pure Brew technology inside, and two different steam controls to help professionals customise recipes and extract desired flavours.
Thermoplan showed of its new Black&White4 CTS, short for coffee, tea, and steam, suited for medium to high daily demand of up to 500 cups.
At Brambati’s stand, guests were treated to a highly curated video that celebrated the roaster’s vision for “innovation, integration, and tradition”. The value of in-person connection was ever so popular with Brambati President Fabrizio Brambati working the crowd and meeting with existing customers and potential new ones, like a fan waits for a celebrity autograph.
Leading supplier of roasting technology, Neuhaus Neotec, displayed its high-performance roasters, full powered by gas, electricity and hydrogen, including the RFB roaster Series, Maestro Drum Roasters and complete plant solutions.
IMA Coffee Hub had strong visibility at Host, where it exhibited some of its most reliable solutions for coffee roasting and packaging, including the TTA60 and TMR25 roasters; and SR4N and SB1 Lab capsule fillers alongside an OpenLab corner showcasing IMA’s latest sustainable projects for coffee processing and packaging.
German roaster manufacturer Probat highlighted its Pilot 2020 software program that adjusts relevant parameters to maintain the target values, and Neptune 1000 drum roaster, which gained attention for its modularity, ease of maintenance and sustainability.
Over at Rychiger, the Swiss company used the biannual gathering to bring together some of its valuable partners customers including Capsul’in and Probat, as well as its own representatives to talk about the single serve capsule packaging industry’s latest products and innovations.
At Latte Art Factory, cold coffee was the name of the game. The standalone milk frother served nitro cold brew latte and iced caramel latte thanks to its ability to store and dispense two liquids at once – making it an instant hit.
The Latte Art Factory Bar Pro, in the coffee machines and vending hall, was among 26 projects that won the Smart Label Host Innovation Award for 2023.
Marco Beverage Systems also showed Host Milano visitors how to offer consistently cold coffee with its Pour’d coffee dispense system and brewer, and how to maximise cold brew extraction with its ColdBRU coffee concentrate brewer.
And Australian cleaning specialist Cafetto celebrated its 20th birthday by launching the Cafetto Cleaning Collection to bring the complete machine cleaning standard to the home barista.
At the end of five days, those that completed the expo with their feet still intact, deserved one last aperitivo with new industry friends, before getting to work and capitalising on new business opportunities.
“Attending Host Milano and seeing the industry’s level of commitment to innovation and evolving products to meet market needs has been enlightening, and extremely beneficial to see first hand. I’m excited to see how this new technology will be embraced over the coming years,” says Global Coffee Report Editor Sarah Baker.
Until next time when the global industry unites for the 44th edition of Host Milano in 2024 – arrivederci and buonanotte.